Douglass adds that the underground railroad (an organized system of cooperation among abolitionists helping fugitive slaves escape to the North or Canada) should be called the “upperground railroad,” and he honors “those good men and women for their noble daring, and applauds them for willingly subjecting themselves to
Did Frederick Douglass Support the Underground Railroad?
The famous abolitionist, writer, lecturer, statesman, and Underground Railroad conductor Frederick Douglass (1817–1895) resided in this house from 1877 until his death. He was a leader of Rochester’s Underground Railroad movement and became the editor and publisher of the North Star, an abolitionist newspaper.
Why does Douglass call the Underground Railroad the Upperground railroad?
“Upperground Railroad” is a term coined by Frederick Douglass in his 1845 autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and was designed to criticize those who personally emphasized their work at helping escaped slaves. They stimulate him to greater watchfulness, and enhance his power to capture his slave.
Why did Frederick Douglass disapprove of the manner in which the Underground Railroad was conducted?
Why did Frederick Douglass disapprove of the manner in which the Underground Railroad was conducted? He thought that there was too much publicity about the Underground Railroad which may hinder future escape efforts because they were enlightening slaveholders of their methods of escape.
What is the main message of Douglass’s speech?
Throughout this speech, as well as his life, Douglass advocated equal justice and rights, as well as citizenship, for blacks. He begins his speech by modestly apologizing for being nervous in front of the crowd and recognizes that he has come a long way since his escape from slavery.
Was the Underground Railroad a real railroad?
Nope! Despite its name, the Underground Railroad wasn’t a railroad in the way Amtrak or commuter rail is. It wasn’t even a real railroad. The Underground Railroad of history was simply a loose network of safe houses and top secret routes to states where slavery was banned.
When did Frederick Douglass join the Underground Railroad?
In the summer of 1838 he was working as a caulker for $9 a week at Butler’s Shipyard in Baltimore – and giving all but 25 cents of his earnings to his master. Frederick Douglass was determined to escape to freedom. On Sept. 3, 1838, Frederick Douglass stepped onto a train in Baltimore.
What is Douglass’s purpose for writing his narrative?
Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography to persuade readers that slavery should be abolished. To achieve his purpose, he describes the physical realities that slaves endure and his responses to his life as a slave.
Why doesn’t Douglass’s freedom feel so free when he arrives in New York?
Because he does not want to give slaveholders any information that would help them stop other slaves from escaping from slavery. What does Douglass say about the Underground Railroad? He says it should be called the “Upper Ground Railroad.”
Who did Douglass marry?
Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts Douglass remained married until his death in 1895. After his will was contested by his children, Helen secured loans in order to buy Cedar Hill and preserve it as a memorial to her late husband.
Why does Douglass not explain how he escaped from slavery?
Douglass’s explanation about why he does not describe the means of his escape elaborates on one of the Narrative’s main themes— the perpetuation of slavery through enforced ignorance. Douglass has said that slave owners keep blacks enslaved by refusing to let them be educated.
Why does Douglass fail to give all details of his escape?
Why does Frederick fail to give the details of his escape? He wanted to protect other slaves and keep it a secret from slave owners who may possibly read his book. He was considered a rebellious slave, and his death was supposed to be a warning to other slaves.
Why does Douglass not give details about his escape?
Why didn’t Douglass give all of the details of his escape? Douglass’s book was published before slavery was ended. If he’d given all the details of his escape, he would have given away important information about the Underground Railroad and put people in danger.
What is the main message that Douglass is giving the reader in the last paragraph of chapter 5?
We are also introduced to the notion of freedom and escape from slavery when Douglass states in the last paragraph that he believed ‘slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace ‘.
What is Douglass tone in the second paragraph identify particular word or phrase choices that support that tone What is the effect of this tone on his audience?
What is the effect of this tone on his audience? Douglass develops a very disappointed sounding tone in the second paragraph of the excerpt. One phrase that helped me identify this tone was, “. Above your national joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions!.” (2).
What does Douglass think of the “underground railroad,” and why?
Chapter 11 of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of his Life On May 18, 2017, at 2:15 a.m., Martin G655067 inquired. The most recent edit was made byjill d170087 on 5/18/20172:36 AM.
Please Include Yours. Posted byjill d170087 at 2:27 a.m. on May 18, 2017. Douglass believes that the subterranean railroad has received too much attention. He also believes that, despite the noble intentions of the slave owners, the slaves themselves suffer as a result of their liberation. They haven’t planned ahead of time. The publicity surrounding the Underground Railroad, in his opinion, increased the consciousness of slave owners, and this increased awareness was an impediment to the achievement of the ultimate outcome.
I commend those brave men and women for their great deeds, and I admire them for deliberately exposing themselves to violent punishment as a result of their open admission of their involvement in the emancipation of enslaved people.
They make no contribution to illuminating the slave, but they make significant contributions to educating the master.
We owe a debt of gratitude to both slaves south of the line and slaves north of the line, and in assisting the latter on their journey to freedom, we should take care not to do anything that might make it more difficult for the former to escape slavery.
This blog post is the second of two about the abolitionist Frederick Douglass (who is celebrating his 200th birthday this year), and it is part of a series called “Hidden Folklorists,” which looks at the folklore work of surprising people, including people who are better known for other endeavors, such as musicians and actors. The first post, “Frederick Douglass: Free Folklorist,” can be seen at the URL provided above. In 1870, Frederick Douglass was born. Photograph courtesy of George Francis Schreiber.
- Abolitionists hoped that the Fugitive Slave Act would force people in free states to surrender slaves to their masters.
- In order to reach a jurisdiction that would not send them back to their slave states, slaves traveling north had to run all the way to Canada, which they did.
- Aside from that, the “Compromise of 1850,” which was arranged by Henry Clay, established a system of balance between slave and free states.
- Douglass’ mentor, William Lloyd Garrison, was one among the abolitionists who accepted the compromise as a means of keeping the peace.
- When he said that the agreement of 1850 “reveals with striking clarity the extent to which slavery has shot its leprousdistilmentthrough the lifeblood of the Nation,” he was referring to the compromise of 1850.
- 12 for an address delivered at the Broadway Tabernacle in New York.) Douglass had always been a voracious reader, and it appears that he was particularly interested in law and ethnology at this period.
- He got interested in ethnology because he was already employing an awareness of culture, particularly slavery’s culture, in his lectures to improve the consciousness of those living in free states, which piqued his curiosity.
A search for ethnological literature on the notion of “race” by diverse authors was undertaken by Douglass with the goal of discovering arguments that would assist bridge the division that existed between African and European Americans.
During his time at Western Reserve College in Ohio, Douglass delivered a lecture titled “The Claims of the Negro” to the Philozetian Society.
This occurred during a particularly gloomy period in the history of the study of human beings.
No coincidence that these “races” were groupings of people who western countries desired to govern, conquer, or hold in servitude for their own reasons.
Fashion is not limited to clothing, but also encompasses philosophy–and it is currently trendy in our country to highlight the contrasts between the negro and the European, to name a few examples.
The European face is shown in a manner that is consistent with the greatest ideals of beauty, dignity, and intellectuality.
For his part, the negro appears with twisted features, exaggerated lips, sunken forehead–and the entire expression of his visage is designed to conform to the general perception of negro imbecility and depravity.
where Frederick Douglass lived until his death in 1896 (between 1980 and 2006).
Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
In fact, as Douglass pointed out, there was no consensus among ethnologists as to exactly which groups constituted “races” or how these various groupings came to exist.
Some people viewed northern Africans as being akin to Europeans, but others did not share this opinion.
Many people, however, agreed on one point: Sub-Saharan Africans were primitive and inferior in comparison to other people.
The fact that Douglass was in the business of dispute helped him comprehend the concepts that kept slavery alive, and this understanding offered him insight into ways of opposing those notions.
This religious argument would resonate with a large number of people in his audience.
Douglass had a gut feeling that ethnologists who said Africans possessed a low level of intelligence were erroneous.
Douglass was aware of other educated African Americans and African Europeans who he could point to.
James McCune Smith, himself a colored man, a gentleman and scholar, alledges–and not without strong reason–that this, our own great nation, so famed for industry and effort, is in large part owed to its composite character,” he says in this address (page 33).
Activists for abolition in Pennsylvania established a school in Philadelphia in 1837 for the training of African Americans to become teachers.
Cheney University is the name of the institution now.
A little bit about this college is familiar to me due to the fact that two of my great-grandparents were alumni.
As a result, it was the world’s first completely co-educational and integrated institution of higher learning in the world.
The fact that this college produced Charles Lewis Reason, the nation’s first African-American professor, comes as no surprise given its historical significance.
A number of scientists used physical characteristics such as head size and stature as proof for the supremacy of Europeans, believing that taller individuals with larger brains were more intelligent.
A number of people at this time believed that the Irish constituted a distinct race.
Within a generation, he noted a shift in the demographics of Irish Americans in Indiana.
Douglass stated in this lecture that nutrition, job conditions, and education all had an impact on the physical traits that ethnologists said were static, proof of race, and evidence of inferiority (pages 30-31).
At the beginning of the twentieth century, anthropologist Franz Boas would employ a variation of this argument to argue against the concept of race as it was applied in anthropological research.
Even though Douglass did not have access to the same amount of data as Boas, his views were valid.
Douglass asserts that, even if the commonality of African Americans with other human beings cannot be demonstrated, they are still human.
According to what I’ve studied and seen on this subject thus far, the Almighty, within certain boundaries, gifted people with organizations that are capable of endless variations in shape, feature, and color without the need to initiate a new creation for each new variety (page 32).
“I am a man!” he would proclaim to his audience at various points throughout his lectures.
It is a sad commentary on American history that a man of Douglass’ brilliance felt the need to declare himself a human being on more than a dozen occasions.
As a result of his observations, Douglass came to see how prevalent the notion of different origins of supposed “races” had become in law and science, in support of a society committed to inequity.
This was because the number of African Americans in some southern states was so large that it was feared that Blacks would take over the government if they were given the vote.
The case of Dred Scott.
Located at: Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress Four years after delivering this speech, a watershed moment occurred.
Scott had been transferred to the free state of Illinois, then the free territory of Wisconsin, and finally left on his own, where he met and married his wife.
When being summoned by his master, he traveled to Missouri, where he sought to purchase his freedom after his master died.
In addition, it’s possible that Scott was uninformed of his legal rights in those jurisdictions.
Scott was found to be a slave by the Supreme Court in 1858, and the Court went on to state that, as a result of his race, he had no rights under the Constitution and could not bring a civil suit in federal court.
Frederick Douglass’s address on the Dred Scott case reads almost as if it were a triumphant announcement of triumph.
Some abolitionists were feeling defeated at this time and wondered if the South should be permitted to secede from the Union, as had previously been urged, in order for the North to be able to construct a free society.
One point of view is that we, the abolitionists and people of color, should greet this decision, as unjust and horrific as it looks, with a positive attitude.
He had been preparing for this moment and everything that would come after it through his ethnological research, his efforts to disprove those who claimed different groups of human beings had multiple origins, and his efforts to challenge the notion that people of color were inferior to Europeans, among other things.
Douglass rightly prophesied on multiple occasions that the culture of slave ownership would eventually transform into a culture of oppression of freed slaves unless significant efforts were taken to ensure that freed slaves were given their legal rights.
People’s rights are founded on a common foundation, and for all of the reasons that they are supported, maintained, and defended for one variety of the human family, they are also supported, maintained, and defended for all varieties of the human family; this is because all mankind has the same desires, which arise from a common nature.
– “The Claim of the Negro,” from “The Claims of the Negro” (page 34) Resources Library of Congress holdings include the Frederick Douglass Papers.
Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
This post is the second in a series about the abolitionist Frederick Douglass (who is celebrating his 200th birthday this year), and it is part of a series called “Hidden Folklorists,” which looks at the folklore work of surprising individuals, including those who are better known for other endeavors. It is possible to read the first post, ” Frederick Douglass: Free Folklorist,” at this link. During the year 1870, Frederick Douglass George Francis Schreiber captured this image on film. Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress The abolitionist society, with which Frederick Douglass had affiliated himself in the 1850s, was confronted with a number of new challenges.
- Individuals who took part in the Underground Railroad were branded as criminals as a result of this act.
- Even though Douglass himself was no longer a slave, the operations of abolitionists like him and other abolitionists to aid runaway slaves had become significantly more risky.
- As a passionate opponent of Clay, both personally and politically, Douglass believed that this arrangement would only help to prolong slavery and make northerners more complacent in their positions.
- The fact that Douglass had firsthand experience with the plight of slaves made it impossible for him to accept anything less than complete liberation for those who were still imprisoned in the institution.
- The following is an excerpt from an address delivered at the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City on page 12.
- Arguments against the increasing web of legislation that aimed to make slavery legitimate under the United States Constitution might be made through the use of law, particularly constitutional law.
- However, the work of certain ethnologists was being utilized in arguments in the United States Congress to promote the preservation of slavery at the time of the writing of this article.
During a lecture to the Philozetian Society at Western Reserve College in Ohio in 1854, Douglass discussed “The Claims of the Negro.” Several ethnologists expressed their opinions on the question of race, which Douglass discussed in detail.
European and American ethnologists were interested in finding a scientific foundation for prejudice against huge groups of people.
To be prejudiced or blind is a state of mind; and scientific authors, no less than others, write to please as well as to enlighten, and (sometimes) compromise what is true in order to be popular.
As an example, if a phrenologist or naturalist sets out to depict the distinctions between the two races–the negro and the European–he would inevitably portray the greatest type of the European and the lowest type of the negro in their pictures.
After the Websterian moulding, this item has a regular and brow appearance.
– – Frederick Douglass delivered a graduation talk to the literary societies of Western Reserve College on July 12, 1854, entitled “The Claims of the Negro, Ethnologically Considered” (page 20) Washington, D.C.’s Frederick Douglass’s former residence (between 1980 and 2006).
Highsmith Archive, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, https://lccn.loc.gov/2011635152/.
In fact, as Douglass pointed out, there was no consensus among ethnologists as to which groups were considered “races” or how the various groupings came to be.
While some people saw northern Africans as being akin to Europeans, other others did not.
Yet everyone agreed on one thing: Sub-Saharan Africans were primitive and inferior in comparison to other races and cultures in Europe.
The fact that Douglass was in the business of disagreeing helped him comprehend the concepts that kept slavery alive, and this awareness provided him insight into ways of overcoming those views.
A large number of people in his audience would agree with his religious argument.
Douglass had a strong feeling that ethnologists who said Africans lacked intelligence were wrong.
Douglass was aware of other educated African Americans and African Europeans who he could point to as examples.
James McCune Smith, himself a colored man, a gentleman and scholar, alleges–and not without strong reason–that our own great nation, so known for industry and effort, is in large part due to its composite nature” (page 33).
Activists for abolition in Pennsylvania established a school in Philadelphia in 1837 for the training of African Americans to become educators.
Cheney University is what it is now.
Because two of my great-grandparents were alumni of this institution, I am familiar with it.
As a result, it was the country’s first completely co-educational and integrated institution of higher learning.
The fact that this college produced Charles Lewis Reason, the nation’s first African-American professor, comes as no surprise given its historical importance.
Some intellectuals used physical characteristics like as head size and stature as proof of European supremacy, saying that larger individuals with greater minds were superior.
A number of people at this time saw the Irish as a distinct race.
During his research, he discovered that Irish Americans in Indiana had changed significantly in only one generation.
As Douglass stated in this address, factors such as nutrition, labor conditions, and education may alter the physical traits that ethnologists asserted were static markers for race and denoting inferiority (pages 30-31).
At the beginning of the twentieth century, anthropologist Franz Boas would employ a variation of this argument to argue against the concept of race as it was applied to anthropological research.
Even though Douglass did not have access to the same amount of material as Boas, his conclusions were right.
) Intenet Archive has the complete text of this article available online.
Douglass asserts that, even if the commonality of African Americans and other human beings cannot be demonstrated, they are still human.
According to what I’ve studied and seen on this subject thus far, the Almighty, within certain boundaries, equipped people with organizations that are capable of endless variations in shape, feature, and color without the need to initiate a new creation for each new variety” (page 32).
Many of his speeches contained a point at which he would proclaim to his audience, “I am a man!
A sad commentary on American history that a man of Douglass’ intellect felt the need to declare himself a human being on more than one occasion is warranted.
As a result of his observations, Douglass came to see how deeply entrenched the notion of distinct origins of supposed “races” had become in law and science, supporting a society set on inequity.
This was due to the fact that African Americans constituted such a large proportion of the population in some southern states that it was feared that Blacks would take control if they were given the vote.
Affirmative action on the Dred Scott decision In the June 1887 issue of Century Magazine Located at: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress The turning point occurred four years after this speech.
Scott had been brought to the free state of Illinois, then the free territory of Wisconsin, and finally left on his own, where he married.
Then, once his owner died, he moved to Missouri and tried unsuccessfully to buy his freedom from the locals there.
In addition, it is possible that Scott was not aware of his legal rights in those jurisdictions.
Scott was found to be a slave by the Supreme Court in 1858, and the Court went on to state that, as a result of his race, he had no rights under the Constitution and could not bring a lawsuit in federal court against the government.
Frederick Douglass’s address on the Dred Scott case reads almost as if it were a triumphant declaration.
The failure of some abolitionists led them to contemplate if the South should be permitted to secede from the Union, as had been urged, in order for the North to be able to construct a free society in the meanwhile.
We, the abolitionists and people of color, should, in one way or another, take this decision, as unjust and horrific as it looks, in a positive manner.
He had been preparing for this moment and everything that would come after it through his ethnological research, his efforts to disprove those who claimed different groups of human beings had multiple origins, and his efforts to challenge the idea that people of color were inferior to Europeans, among other things.
For many years, Douglass correctly prophesied that the culture of slave ownership would morph into a culture of tyranny against freed slaves unless significant efforts were taken to restore the rights of freed slaves.
People’s rights are founded on a common foundation, and for all of the reasons that they are supported, maintained, and defended for one variety of the human family, they are also supported, maintained, and defended for all varieties of the human family; this is because all mankind has the same desires, which arise from a shared nature.
A satirical novel, “The Claims of the Negro,” is set in the United States of America (page 34) Resources Library of Congress holdings of the Frederick Douglass Papers
You Might Also Like
- When guests enter the White House China Room, they will see china from practically every presidential administration and first family in the country. Tucked
Charles Willson Peale
- The name Charles Willson Peale is synonymous with portraiture in the eighteenth century. Illustrations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and other historical figures
- Frequently, the accomplishments and contributions of enslaved people are lost to history, having gone unreported, disregarded, or forgotten by succeeding generations of descendants. one of them
Prominent African-American Women and the White House
- The fact that Michelle Obama was the first African-American first lady of the United States does not negate the fact that African Americans have played a vital role in
“Running from the Temple of Liberty”: The Pearl Incident
- The fact that Michelle Obama was the first African-American first lady of the United States does not negate the fact that African Americans have played an important role in
Building the President’s House with Enslaved Labor
- Many aspects of James Hoban’s biography match the typical immigrant success narrative, including his upbringing in Canada. Born into a poor household in County Ki
- Raised by his grandparents.
African Americans Enter Abraham Lincoln’s White House, 1863-1865
- The New Year’s Day reception began with President John Adams in 1801 and concluded with President Herbert Ho
- It was a White House tradition from then until now.
Daniel Webster’s House
- The United States Chamber of Commerce Building is located on the intersection of H Street and Connecticut Avenue, where a three-and-a-half-story building formerly stood.
The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C.
- Founded in 1802, just a few years after the city of Washington D.C. was established, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C.
Paul CuffePresident James Madison: The Transatlantic Emigration Projectthe White House
- Captain Paul Cuffe came to the White House on May 2, 1812, for a meeting with President James Madison, who was there. 1 The most well-known on the world stage
Enslaved and Entrenched
- President James Madison received Captain Paul Cuffe at the White House on May 2, 1812, for a meeting with him. first and foremost, the world-famous
- Paul Jennings was born in 1799 at Montpelier, the Virginia residence of James and Dolley Madison. He was the son of James and Dolley Madison. His mother, a lady who was enslaved
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television?
Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
The Underground Railroad’s Troubling Allure
The package came one spring evening in 1849, thanks to the overland express service. It was three feet long, two feet wide, and two and a half feet deep. It had been packed the previous morning in Richmond, Virginia, and then transported by horse cart to the local office of the Adams Express Company, which was located in nearby Richmond. When it arrived at the railroad terminal, it was loaded onto a train and then moved to a steamer, where it was placed upside down despite the label stating “THIS SIDE UP WITH CARE.” A fatigued passenger then flipped it over and used it as a seat.
After reaching the nation’s capital, it was put into a wagon, dropped at the railway station, loaded onto a luggage car, and then transported to Philadelphia, where it was emptied onto another wagon before being delivered at 31 North Fifth Street.
Upon opening it, a man named Henry Brown emerged: five feet eight inches tall, two hundred pounds, and, as far as anyone is aware, the first person in United States history to free himself from slavery by “getting myself conveyed as dry goods to a free state,” as he put it later in his autobiography.
Leigh GuldigMcKim, a white abolitionist with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society who had by then been working for the Underground Railroad for more than a decade, was impressed by the heroism and drama of Brown’s escape, as well as the courage and drama of others like it.
After first appearing in our collective consciousness in the eighteen-forties, the Underground Railroad has become a fixture of both national history and local tradition.
On television, the WGN America network broadcasted the first season of “Underground,” a drama series that chronicles the lives of a group of slaves known as the Macon Seven as they leave a Georgia farm.
A collection of writings about the Underground Railroad was published in 2004 by Yale historian David Blight under the title “Passages to Freedom.” “Bound for Canaan,” written by Fergus Bordewich in the next year, was the first national history of the railroad in more than a century and was published in 1897.
The adult biographies of Harriet Tubman, the railroad’s most famous “conductor,” were published only twice between 1869 and 2002; since then, more than four times as many have been published, along with a growing number of books about her for children and young adults—five in the nineteen-seventies, six in the nineteen-eighties, twenty-one in the nineteen-nineties, and more than thirty since the turn of the century.
- Under addition, an HBO biopic of Tubman is now in preparation, and the United States Treasury confirmed earlier this year that she will be featured on the twenty-dollar note beginning in the next decade.
- Since 1998, the National Park Service has been attempting to establish a Network to Freedom, a nationwide network of Underground Railroad sites that have been officially recognized but are administered by local communities.
- The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will be the first national monument dedicated to Tubman’s life and accomplishments.
- McKim hoped that by telling these stories, we would be moved to feelings of respect, adoration, and outrage, and he was right.
- No one knows who came up with the phrase.
It originally appeared in print in an abolitionist newspaper in 1839, at the close of a decade in which railways had come to represent wealth and development, and more than three thousand miles of real track had been completed throughout the country, according to the National Railway Historical Society.
- Colson Whitehead’s latest novel takes use of both of these characteristics by doing consciously what practically every young child learning about our country’s history does naively: taking the phrase “Underground Railroad” to its literal meaning.
- Whitehead has a fondness for fanciful infrastructure, which is initially exposed in his outstanding debut novel, “The Intuitionist,” through the use of psychically active elevators.
- In “The Underground Railroad,” he more or less reverses the strategy he used in his previous trick.
- It is an astute decision, since it serves to remind us that no metaphor has ever brought anybody to freedom.
- That set of questions was initially posed in a thorough and methodical manner by a historian at Ohio State University called Wilbur Siebert in the 1930s.
“The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom,” the history that resulted from the investigation, was published in 1898 and depicted a network of more than three thousand anti-slavery activists, the majority of whom were white, who assisted in the transportation of largely anonymous runaways to freedom.
- An abolitionist group working undercover (through tunnels, trapdoors, and hidden passageways) and using covert signals (lanterns placed in windows and quilts hung on laundry lines) to assist enslaved African-Americans in their journey to freedom is depicted in that image.
- Like so many other stories about our nation’s history, that one has a difficult relationship to the truth: it is not exactly incorrect, but it is simplified; it is not quite a myth, but it has been mythologized.
- Furthermore, even the most active abolitionists spent just a small percentage of their time on clandestine adventures involving packing boxes and other such contraptions; instead, they focused on important but mundane chores such as fund-raising, teaching, and legal help, among other things.
- Regarding the belief that travelers on the Underground Railroad communicated with one another through the use of quilts, that thought first surfaced in the 1980s, without any apparent evidence (thenineteen -eighties).
Nobody disputes that white abolitionists were involved in the Underground Railroad, but later scholars argued that Siebert exaggerated both the number of white abolitionists and the importance of their involvement, while downplaying or ignoring the role played by African-Americans in the Underground Railroad.
- However, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1816 in direct response to American racism and the institution of slavery, receives little mainstream attention.
- It is not only institutions but also people who are affected by this imbalanced awareness.
- His book about it was published a quarter of a century before Siebert’s, and it was based on detailed notes he kept while helping 639 fugitives on their journey to freedom.
- This distribution of credit is inversely proportionate to the level of danger that white and black anti-slavery advocates were exposed to.
- Some were slain, some perished in prison, and others fled to Canada because they were afraid of being arrested or worse.
These, however, were the exceptions. Most whites were subjected to just penalties and the disapproval of some members of their society, but those who resided in anti-slavery strongholds, as many did, were able to go about their business virtually unhindered.
Rethinking the Underground Railroad
Miriam Ascarelli contributed to this article. As the child of Italian immigrants who grew up in Indiana, the Underground Railroad was something I learned about from books while I was growing up. Even for a white girl like myself, these African American liberation stories are uplifting to read. Let’s fast forward to the mid-nineties. Teaching at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, located on a campus in the center of Newark, a predominantly Black city with a long and illustrious history, was a pleasant surprise.
After all, Newark is a microcosm of the American experience, beginning with its founding by New England Puritans in 1666 as a religious theocracy and progressing through its years as a 19th-century manufacturing powerhouse, its years as a city marked by racial tensions, disinvestment, and white flight, and its years as an urban center working tirelessly to reinvent itself today, among other things.
- So, after hearing an often-repeated narrative of how the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, sometimes known as Old First, assisted fugitive slaves in the early nineteenth century, I returned to my prior interests and decided to look for evidence of the Underground Railroad in the area.
- Established in 1666, the church, which is a white-steepled brick structure in the heart of downtown, is still rich with antiquities.
- Unfortunately, we discovered that the route, which is now obstructed by the Prudential Center arena next door, was too dark and wet for us to examine further.
- After reading this, I was left with a nagging question: Was this tale true?
- It’s a good thing for me that a lot of the legwork has already been done by Noelle Lorraine Williams, who is an artist, researcher, and program director for African-American history at the state historical commission.
- Her exhibit, “Black Power!
Black people were not permitted to sit in the pews at Old First; instead, they were required to stand in a separate section known as the “Negro corner.” This behavior spurred African-Americans to organize their own Presbyterian church in 1830, which was known as the Plane Street Colored Church of Philadelphia.
- Newark’s 19th-century Black preachers, such as Samuel Cornish, who assisted in the founding of the first Black national newspaper and later served as pastor of the church from 1839 to 1844, were connected to other Black abolitionist leaders across the country, according to historians.
- Meetings of the American Colonization Society, which attempted to induce African-Americans to migrate to the continent, were also held at Old First.
- In light of these findings, it is reasonable to speculate that Old First was a station on the Underground Railroad.
- According to her, “Newark was a stop on the Underground Railroad, but I don’t believe it was a stop with hundreds of people passing through.” Some experts have arrived to the conclusion that people would go via Newark if there were no alternative locations accessible.
- The risks that Black people were subjected to hit me as I walked through the exhibition.
- One offered a $10 reward for the capture of a “Negro man named Cato, 34 years old, around 5 feet 5 inches tall, pretends to be pious, considers himself a methodist, and is a tremendous liar,” according to the description.
- In an ad for a black youngster for sale, the Sentinal of Freedom claims that “he is energetic, healthy, and intelligent.” Chilling.
Newark, according to Noelle Lorraine Williams, had a strong pro-slavery stance during the time.
Used with permission from NJ Advance Media.
I wish I could say that the prejudice took me completely by surprise.
When I arrived, I was aware that Newark’s manufacturers had significant economic links to the South, and that there was a great deal of pro-slavery feeling in the city.
Slavery was permitted to continue in New Jersey under the 1804 Gradual Abolition Law.
As a result, enslaved children became valued property, and some New Jerseyans took advantage of the situation to commit crimes against the state.
Van Wickle was never charged with a crime and was cleared of all charges.
Another element that emerges loud and clear from Williams’ study is the fact that Newark’s Black churches served as a haven and a source of advocacy for the city’s Black population.
While many of those church structures have since been demolished, many of the words that were uttered there are still preserved on torn sheets that Williams has saved from the soot of history and replicated for the exhibition.
Theodore Frelinghuysen, a prominent New Jersey historical figure who served as president of both New York University and Rutgers University, said openly that they backed Black freedom throughout the 1800s.
” When it came to advocating for the segregation of African Americans in Newark and planning their transportation to Africa, they exploited religion and religious organizations.” Noelle Lorraine Williams’ artwork depicts the site where the Plane Street Colored Church would be today if it were still standing.
In 1849, the famed abolitionist delivered a speech in the chapel.
their plight is so obscure, they make no effect on the public consciousness.” If we could condense them into a single neighborhood, even in their wretchedness, it would be more beneficial to them (than) their current status,” says the author.
Racial covenants and redlining, among other discriminatory practices, were instrumental in the formation of the urban ghetto.
It served as a reminder to me that the legacy of slavery has continued to reverberate in all sorts of insidious ways, from mass incarceration of Black men to police brutality and the wealth gap, which has resulted in white household wealth being worth ten times that of Black households, among other things.
We will never be able to move forward toward a more equitable future until we acknowledge our history, no matter how embarrassing and terrible it may have been.
Your assistance is required for our journalism.
To submit an opinion piece or a Letter to the Editor, follow the instructions below.
Follow us on Twitter @NJ Opinion and on Facebook @NJ.com Opinion for the latest news and commentary.
Get the most recent news information sent directly to your email. Sign up for NJ.com’s newsletters now. Please keep in mind that if you purchase something after clicking on one of our affiliate links, we may receive a fee.